Around the world, May Day 2019 will be celebrated as a day of struggle for labour rights, peace, democracy, solidarity and environmental sustainability. May First will also honour the 100th anniversary of the historic Winnipeg General Strike of 1919. But at the same time, the enemies of the working class are dragging the world towards war, fascism and climate catastrophe, and a critical federal election is just months away in Canada.
On the international scene, workers are putting up a valiant resistance against neoliberalism and austerity. Over the last year, huge strikes and protests for higher wages and labour rights have been held from India to Australia to France and Portugal, and even in US states where teachers are leading the way. The people of Sudan have overthrown their reactionary dictator, and working people are mobilizing for change in Algeria and other African countries. Workers are organizing in many anti-union sectors of the capitalist economy, such as the digital industry, fast food, online retail, and others. Despite the series of victories by right-wing candidates in some Latin American countries in the last few years, workers and their allies are pushing back against the sweeping agenda of cutbacks and privatization being imposed by Brazil’s Bolsonaro and others. In short, the class struggle against the bosses is growing stronger. This is a not a moment to passively ride out the storm – it’s a time to strengthen the fightback, just as workers in past decades fought to win the 8-hour day, unemployment insurance, pensions, and the right to organize in mass production industries.
Imperialism is attempting to use temporary advantage to impose its will against any country which refuses to bow to the orders and threats of the United States and its NATO allies. The dirty “regime change” campaign of sanctions and destabilization continues against the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela, and its allies Nicaragua and socialist Cuba are still in the cross-hairs of the White House and the Pentagon. For different reasons, China, Russia and Iran remain key targets of imperialism, encircled by US and NATO bases, and hit by sanctions and other threats.
In the Middle East, apartheid Israel has escalated its war crimes against the people of Palestine, especially in Gaza where hundreds have been slaughtered in repeated attacks by IDF forces. Despite Donald Trump’s claims to support peace in the Korean Peninsula, his administration imposes sanctions against the DPRK, and regularly threatens military aggression unless the country accepts his demand to re-impose capitalism.
Four years ago, the Trudeau Liberals promised to move away from the Harper government’s agenda of austerity, attacks on labour rights, and militarization. But in office, the Liberals have kept up the assault on Postal Workers and the right to strike, and accepted Trump’s demands to boost contributions to US and NATO aggression. Canadian troops have been deployed in Ukraine, Iraq, Latvia, and Mali, and Canadian military spending is set to rise from the current $20 billion up to the $35 billion level. Scientists now warn that centuries of unrestrained capitalist pillaging of the environment has brought the world to the brink of unstoppable climate change, leading to hurricanes, flooding, droughts and wild fires which affect tens of millions of people. Despite their rhetoric, the Trudeau Liberals have consistently backed the interests of the big energy monopolies, leading to rising greenhouse gas emissions, more environmental degradation, and the flagrant violation of Indigenous sovereignty.
The capitalist economic crisis has deepened exploitation and poverty. The 8 richest people on earth now own as much wealth as 50% of the world’s population. Last year the top 2,000 billionaires saw their wealth grow by $700 billion, enough money to end extreme poverty seven times over.
But the capitalist class still fights bitterly to bolster its profits, by blocking minimum wage hikes, gutting and raiding workers’ pensions, and continuing the privatization and austerity agenda. Outrageous housing costs are boosting homelessness in every major city, the opioid crisis is increasing its death toll, and the suicide crisis of Indigenous youth on reserves is unchecked.
In office, the Liberals have given corporations like SNC Lavalin the big gift of Deferred Prosecution Agreements that are Get Out of Jail Free corporate cards. The DPAs allow corporations to pay a fine in exchange for freedom from prosecution for their criminal activities including fraud and bribery. The NAFTA re-negotiations ended up with the USMCA, yet another expansion of the corporate constitution of North America. This deal gives more rights to corporations to cut jobs and manufacturing in Canada, to gut the supply-management system in agriculture, and to weaken universal public Medicare and labour and democratic rights.
As declining living standards fuel public anger, the capitalist class is adopting more violent and repressive strategies. The most reactionary capitalist forces seek to divert the blame onto Muslims, immigrants, women, Indigenous peoples, Black and racialized peoples, and queer and trans peoples. Ultra-right and fascist organizations seek to rollback the hard fought gains of working and oppressed people and preserve the capitalist system itself. Ultra-right governments have made major gains in Europe, and in the United States with the Trump administration. In Canada the ultra-right is seeking to expand their close relations with the Conservative Party, as seen by Andrew Scheer’s connections to Rebel Media, Doug Ford and Jason Kenney’s links to anti-choice and ultra-right groups in Ontario and Alberta. The Legault government in Quebec with its bill against religious signs, its support to UBER against the taxi drivers, and its project to reduce immigration, is another good example.
This fall’s federal election will be a critical moment for labour and its allies to roll-back the reactionary austerity agenda imposed by right-wing governments. Instead of Liberal and Tory majorities, working people need a new government with new policies that put people before profits and people’s needs ahead of corporate greed.
The drive toward war, racism, climate chaos, poverty and precarity is not inevitable. Broad alliances for democracy and equality rights must be formed to build mass action to block racist, white supremacist and fascist organization and advocacy. The walkouts by students against climate change and education cuts, the Women’s Marches, the struggles of Indigenous communities against pipeline expansion, and the massive teachers’ strikes in the US are examples of how to resist.
Workers in Canada can and must show solidarity at home and globally, standing shoulder to shoulder against the forces that threaten our planet. Labour and its allies must unite and fight for a people’s agenda for Canada, around demands that can rollback corporate power and the drive to war.
The Communist Party of Canada is fighting for:
– Fair trade, not NAFTA 2.0 – multi-lateral and mutually beneficial trade with all countries, including long term credits for developing and socialist countries;
– A foreign policy of peace and disarmament; get out of NATO and NORAD, cut military spending by 75%, bring home Canadian troops involved in foreign wars;
– Climate Justice – public ownership of natural and energy resources; close the tar sands and transition to job creation by public development of renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, hydro and thermal;
– Launch an emergency program to build affordable social housing across Canada; invest in value-added manufacturing, including a made-in-Canada energy-efficient electric car, and urban and inter-urban mass rapid transit
– Expand universal social programs and Medicare, and introduce a system of universally accessible, affordable, quality public childcare
– Raise the minimum wage to $20; substantially increase pensions and drop the age for a full pension and OAS to 60; introduce a guaranteed annual income at a living wage; increase EI to 90% of former earnings and expand to cover all job seekers including part-time and first-time job seekers. Enact universal pay and employment equity; repeal the Temporary Foreign Workers Act;
– Expand immigration and refugee acceptance and re-settlement; scrap the Canada-US Safe Third Country Agreement;
– Eliminate tuition fees and make post-secondary education free and accessible to all;
– Protect and expand civil, social, labour, democratic and reproductive rights. Enact a Bill of Rights for labour, including the rights to strike, organize and picket. Enforce and enact anti-hate laws. Ban organizations which violate anti-hate speech laws, like Soldiers of Odin, La meute, Your Ward News, and the KKK.
On May Day 2019, workers of the world unite! Build the fightback in the spirit of the general strikes of 1919, which advanced the struggles to overthrow the capitalist system, to end exploitation and oppression, and emancipate humanity. Working people will take control of their own destiny and establish working class political power. It is possible to save the planet and win a better world, and this May Day our struggle to win a socialist future continues.
Central Executive Committee, Communist Party of Canada
May Day events across Canada
4:30pm @ City Hall [716 MacLeod Trail SE]
5:30pm @ Alberta Legislature [10800 97 Ave NW]
3:30pm @ Department of Labour [1505 Barrington St]
3:30pm @ Gore Park [399 King St E]
5pm @ Red Bridge, Pioneer Park
4:30pm @ large picnic shelter, Victoria Park [32 Dill St]
3:30pm @ Victoria Park [580 Clarence St]
6pm @ Métro Parc [395 Rue Jean-Talon O]
5:30pm @ Bowen Park [500 Bowen Road]
5pm @ Union Centre [2709 12th Ave]
5pm @ City Hall [100 Queen Street West]
5:30pm @ West Georgia & Richards
5:30pm @ Centennial Square [1 Centennial Square]
12pm @ Charles Clark Square [215 Chatham St E]
5:30pm @ City Hall [510 Main St]